NRCC not spending for three vulnerable Republican lawmakers

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has no airtime reserved for three of its most vulnerable incumbents, a sign it might think Reps. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) and Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) are beyond saving at this point.

Walsh and Guinta share media markets with other embattled GOP candidates for whom the NRCC has recently begun to air ads, leaving no ad time for their races. Bartlett's district was not included in any of the group's original air reservations.

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The information was provided to The Hill by a Democrat who tracks ad buys.

The news on Guinta is the most surprising: While he's trailed former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) in the three public polls of the race conducted this year, he's running in a toss-up district and all nonpartisan polls have shown a close contest. Walsh and Bartlett have long been viewed by most observers as dead men running.

A Republican source said the party still feels good about Guinta's chances and points out that ad buys can be changed at any time, although usually, at this point, vulnerable incumbents have airtime reserved for them.

Democrats are performing their own triage: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already canceled two weeks of its buy for Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), a sign it thinks he's a lost cause in a newly drawn, heavily Republican district. The House Majority PAC also canceled a week of ad buys targeting Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), though the DCCC is scheduled to begin running ads against him in early October.

Both Bartlett and Walsh were the targets of Democratic gerrymanders. A poll released Tuesday from a group targeting Walsh showed him trailing Tammy Duckworth (D) by 14 points in the Democratic-leaning suburban Chicago district.

The NRCC has also put no money behind ads for Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.), who is facing ongoing investigations from the FBI, IRS and House Ethics Committee. It's unclear whether that's because the committee is confident about his chances or considers him a long shot, though it's more likely to be the latter, as Republicans have kept him at arm's length for months. Two Democratic polls released in the last week have shown him trailing Democrat Joe Garcia, with Rivera pushing back and releasing a poll that shows him in the lead.

Nor has the NRCC made any reservations for Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), another freshman facing investigations, though in that case it's more likely the committee is not as worried about him — his opponent has struggled to fundraise in the expensive district, and a recent independent poll showed Grimm up by a double-digit margin.